Unbeaten Run Remains Intact But Only Just
For 87 minutes of this game the remarkable unbeaten run at home in the league was under threat, but thanks to a never say die spirit within the team, Forest were able to battle until the bitter end to secure all 3 points and stretch that run to a very credible 32 games. It was a scruffy game to put it politely, not helped by a blustering wind that never let up for the duration of the match. Neither side could justifiably claim to have been the dominant force, but it was the Reds` that ran out 2-1 winners after going behind once again.
Billy Davies made two changes to the side that won at Preston last week, with Tudgay and Earnshaw replacing McGugan and McGoldrick. There was once again no place in the squad for the soon to be departing Wilson, with this weeks excuse being that he had a virus.
The game started at an almost pedestrian pace, with neither side offering anything in the way of attacking play. It took nearly 15 minutes for the first attempt on goal and that came from a Paul Anderson breakaway that saw him running at the Pompey defence and beating them for pace. Unfortunately for Forest, it came to nothing, as his pass to Gunter resulted in a tame ball being played into the visitors box that was cleared with ease.
It was the visitors who took the lead, when they capitalised on an uncharacteristic error from Chris Gunter on 26 minutes. He managed to slip with the ball at his feet and was mugged in the process by Dave Nugent. The striker ran passed our unfortunate right back and went unchallenged to the edge of the Forest box. He delivered a good ball into the feet of Kanu, who had to deal with 3 Reds` defenders snapping at his heels. Kanu made light work of them though and was able to put the ball passed Camp to put Portsmouth 1 up.
They could have doubled their lead soon after when Liam Lawrence let fly with a thunderous free kick. Thanks to a lively looking Camp in the Forest goal, he dived at full stretch to stop it going in the top of the net and was able to push it out wide for a corner. The only effort of note from the home side in a disappointing half, came from a corner that resulted in Tudgay shooting high over the bar from close range.
Forest started the second half with a little more purpose than the first, but they still persisted with high balls into the box that the visitors were dealing all too easily with thanks to their height in defence. It didn`t take long for Davies to make changes and he sent on McGugan and Tyson, for Earnshaw and Majewski. Tyson came close to getting an equaliser, with a neatly struck shot that had Ashdown beat, but his effort clipped the bar resulting in a goal kick. That lifted the all too quiet City Ground crowd and they did their best to roar the lads on, but the visitors were making life difficult for the Reds` and sat back on their lead.
Pompey keeper Ashdown had to pull off a few decent saves in the second half, one from a McGugan free kick and a couple from a series of corners that put Pompey under pressure. Adebola came on and replaced Anderson with 73 minutes gone and once again the big brute of a striker made a difference by hustling and bustling the Pompey defence. With only 3 minutes left and defeat staring us in the face, it was Adebola who was instrumental in getting us the equaliser. A good ball in from McGugan had the visitors defence in all sorts of trouble. Adebola was hot on the heels of man mountain Sonko and his presence was enough to force the defender to knock the ball into his own goal.
Referee Kevin Friend, who despite my write up before the game, didn`t have such a bad game after all today, signalled 4 minutes added time. That was enough to once again liven up the home crowd, who had precious little to cheer about up until now. Forest responded and did attempt to get forward. Moussi sent a shot wide, just before Tudgay stole the points and the Pompey hearts right at the death. It was from another well delivered cross from McGugan that Forest nicked the points. His cross into the box was met by Tudgay, who hit the ball over Ashdown from just inside the box.
It was by no means an emphatic win and the visitors may well feel a little hard done to, but it was a result we`ll gladly take as it puts us just 2 points outside the Playoffs and nicely positioned in 8th place. 32 games unbeaten at home in the league and things aren`t looking too bad.